Trimble Navigation

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Trimble Navigation, Ltd.
Type Public
Industry Geospatial, Construction, Agriculture, Transportation and Logistics, Telecommunications, Asset tracking, Mapping, Utilities, Mobile Resource Management, Government, RFID
Founded 1978
Founder(s) Charles Trimble, et al.
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, United States
Key people Steven Berglund (CEO)
Revenue $2.0 Billion for FY 2012
Employees 6,561 (as of 2012)

Trimble Navigation, Ltd., headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, makes GPS (Global Positioning Systems) receivers, laser rangefinders and inertial navigation systems. The company is best known in the fields of surveying, construction, agriculture, scientific instrumentation, and mobile and fleet management. As of 2012, the company has more than 6561 employees who are located in more than 30 countries around the world – approximately 54% of its employees are located outside the United States. Steve Berglund has been Trimble's CEO since 1999.

Since 1999, Trimble's revenues have grown from approximately $270 million to over $2.0 billion in 2012.[1]



Trimble Navigation was founded in 1978 by Charles Trimble and two partners from Hewlett Packard, initially operating from Los Altos, California. Prior to founding Trimble Navigation, Trimble was manager of Integrated Circuit Research and Development at Hewlett-Packard’s Santa Clara Division.

Trimble based its first products on LORAN technology, a ground-based navigation, location and timing system in U.S. coastal waters. They initially focused on products in the marine navigation market. At the same time these products were being brought to market and sold, the Global Positioning System (GPS) was being developed by the U.S. as a dual-use technology.

The company began to focus resources on harnessing and expanding the power of GPS, thus spearheading the development of GPS for commercial and consumer applications, as well as military use of the new technology. In 1982, Trimble began engineering products that would take advantage of the U.S. Government's newly launched GPS satellites. In 1984, Trimble introduced the world's first commercial scientific-research and geodectic-survey products based on GPS for oil-drilling teams on offshore platforms.

From 1984 to 1988, Trimble greatly increased its family of products for scientific and research applications, as well as marine navigation markets. The next two years were explosive growth years, with Trimble receiving the first of its many U.S. and foreign patents for advances in GPS and other technology.

In 1989, Trimble acquired the Navigation Systems Division of TAU Corporation and began developing differential GPS (DGPS) technology to provide increased accuracy for the fleet management market. Trimble also made headway into new markets in 1990 by acquiring a New Zealand company, Datacom Software Research Ltd., enabling Trimble to offer new survey and mapping software products.

Trimble became the first GPS company to go public in 1990, offering stock on the NASDAQ (TRMB). That same year, its product line became solely dedicated to GPS.


In 1992, Trimble developed real-time kinematic (RTK) technology, allowing moment-by-moment GPS updates while on the move. For surveyors, this was revolutionary; GPS equipment now enabled them to do topographic mapping, stakeout, Geographic Information System (GIS) data acquisition, and as-built surveys in real-time.

Over the next several years, Trimble rapidly advanced GPS technology. In 1994, the company developed the first GPS receiver small enough to be integrated on a PC card. Just a year later, Trimble introduced the first 'plug-and-play' GPS sensor for laptops and PDAs. Trimble became the first company to put GPS and cellular communications on a single board in 1998; and in 1999, Trimble GPS was used in Seiko Epson's Locatio communication device, the world's first combination PDA, wireless phone, personal navigator and digital camera. In 2000, Trimble was the first to develop a GPS architecture – FirstGPS™ technology – that uses the host product's CPU, a huge advance in enabling GPS technology to be integrated into more and more products.


Steve Berglund took over as president and CEO in March 1999, and remains in the position today.

Since 1999, Trimble has grown its business through a series of acquisitions. Its acquisitions include Spectra Precision Group, Tripod Data Systems, Advanced Public Safety, Inc., Apache Technologies, Acutest Engineering Solutions Ltd, Applanix, Géo-3D, INPHO, Gatewing, Meridian Systems, NTech Industries, Pacific Crest, Quantm, Accubid Systems, QuickPen International, SECO Mfg. Co., Inc., Visual Statement, XYZ Solutions, Inc, Tekla, ThingMagic[2] and Punch Telematix NV.[3]

On 1 June 2012, Trimble completed the acquisition of the 3D modeling software package SketchUp from Google.[4]

Market segments[edit]

Engineering and Construction[edit]

Trimble’s Engineering and Construction segment composes 55% of the company’s overall revenue. Products are made for civil engineering, building construction, surveying, geospatial, energy, cadastre and land management industries.

Software and Information Technology capabilities within the Engineering and Construction segment include civil engineering alignment selection, design and data preparation software, BIM software, cloud-based collaboration solutions, applications for advanced surveying and geospatial data collection and analysis and many application specific field and office software components.

Field Solutions[edit]

The Field Solutions segment composes 25% of the company’s total revenue, addressing the Agriculture and Mapping and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) markets. Distribution for Field Solutions is primarily through a network of independent dealers and business partners

The company’s agriculture products consist of guidance and positioning systems, automated application systems information management solutions, and solutions for leveling fields. Handheld data collectors are the core of the Mapping and GIS product line enabling data collection and storage that incorporates the location of the asset.

Mobile Solutions[edit]

Trimble’s Mobile Solutions segment generates 13% of the company’s total revenue. Solutions in this segment are related to field service management, transportation and logistics, forestry, and public safety. The Mobile Solutions segment provides both hardware and software applications for managing mobile work, mobile workers, and mobile assets. As opposed to the engineering and construction and field solutions segments, Trimble sells its mobile solutions directly.

Advanced Devices[edit]

The Advanced Devices segment is the smallest of Trimble’s market segments, generating only 7% of the company’s total revenue. Advanced Devices includes the product lines from its Embedded Technologies, Timing, Applanix, Trimble Outdoors, and Military and Advanced Systems, or MAS, and ThingMagic businesses. With the exception of Trimble Outdoors and Applanix, these businesses share several common characteristics: they are hardware centric, generally market to original equipment manufacturers, or OEM, system integrators or service providers, and have products that can be utilized in a number of different end-user markets and applications. Solutions in this segment are sold direct to end-user.


Year Company Acquired Acquired Technology/Impacted Industry
1989 Navigation Systems Division of TAU Corporation Fleet Management
1990 Datacom Software Research Ltd. Survey and Mapping Software
2000 Spectra Precision Group Positioning solutions for construction, surveying and agricultural markets
2000 Tripod Data Systems (TDS) Data collection software and hardware for the land survey, construction and GIS markets
2002 Levelite Technology Entry-level construction instrument
2003 Applanix Corporation Systems that integrate Inertial Navigation System (INS) and GPS technologies
2003 MENSI S.A. Terrestrial 3D scanning technology
2004 TracerNet Corporation Wireless fleet management solutions
2004 GeoNav GmbH Field data collection solutions for the cadastral survey market
2005 Pacific Crest Wireless communication technologies
2005 Apache Technologies, Inc. Laser products for construction leveling and alignment
2005 MobileTech Solutions Field workforce automation
2006 Advanced Public Safety, Inc. (APS) Mobile and handheld software products used by law enforcement, fire-rescue and other public safety agencies
2006 The XYZs of GPS, Inc (Acquired intellectual property assets) Real-time GNSS reference station, integrity monitoring and dynamic positioning software
2006 Quantm International, Inc. and its subsidiary Quantm Ltd Transportation route optimization software
2006 Eleven Technology, Inc. Mobile application software
2006 BitWyse Solutions, Inc 2D and 3D software applications for engineering and construction plant design
2006 Visual Statement Inc Software tools for crime and collision incident investigation, analysis and reconstruction
2006 XYZ Solutions, Inc Real-time, interactive 3D intelligence software
2006 Meridian Systems, Inc. Construction project management technologies
2006 Spacient Technologies Enterprise field service management and mobile mapping solutions for municipalities and utilities
2007 @Road,Inc. Mobile technologies
2007 INPHO GmbH Photogrammetry and digital surface modeling
2007 Ingenieurbüro Breining Field data collection and office survey software solutions (German market)
2007 UtilityCenter® assets from privately held UAI, Inc Automated workflow solutions for utilities market
2008 Crain Enterprises, Inc Accessories for the geomatics, surveying, mapping, and construction industries
2008 HHK Datentechnik GmbH Office and field software solutions for the cadastral survey market in Germany
2008 Géo-3D Inc. Roadside infrastructure asset inventory solutions
2008 SECO Manufacturing Company Engineering and construction accessories
2008 Acquired the assets of RolleiMetric from Rollei GmbH Metric Camera Systems
2008 Acquired assets of Tru Count, Inc. Air and electric clutches for agriculture
2008 TopoSys GmbH Aerial data collection systems
2008 Rawson Control Systems Hydraulic and electronic controls for the agriculture equipment industry
2008 FastMap and GeoSite software assets from KOREC Optimized software for Mapping and GIS
2009 Assets of Callidus Precision Systems GmbH 3D laser scanning for industrial market
2009 QuickPen International Building Information Modeling (BIM) for HVAC, mechanical construction and plumbing industries
2009 NTech Industries Crop sensing technology
2009 Accutest Engineering Solutions, Ltd. Vehicle diagnostics and telematics technologies
2009 Assets of CTN Data Service, LLC Integrated office and mobile software solutions for agriculture professionals and farmers
2010 Pondera Engineers LLC Software tools for siting, designing, optimizing, and maintaining high-voltage power transmission and distribution lines
2010 LET Systems Incident and outage management system (OMS) solutions for utilities
2010 Definiens' Earth Sciences business assets eCognition® software, an image analysis software suite for geospatial applications
2010 Accubid Systems Project management and service management software and services for electrical and mechanical contractors
2010 Cengea Solutions Inc Spatially enabled business operations and supply chain management software for the forestry, agriculture and natural resource industries
2010 Terralite assets from Novariant XPS technology
2010 ThingMagic, Inc. RFID Technology
2010 Tata AutoComp Mobility Telematics Limited Telematics solutions and Mobile Resource Management services in India
2010 Punch Telematix NV (rebranded as Trimble Transport & Logistics) Telematics and transport management solutions for the transport and logistics sector
2011 Suite of software solutions from Mesta Entreprenør AS Software suite for Nordic construction market
2011 Assets related to the OmniSTAR™ from Fugro N.V. Land-based correction services
2011 GEDO CE Trolley System and software were acquired from Sinning Vermessungsbedarf GmbH GEDO CE Trolley System and Software for Railway
2011 Ashtech S.A.S Survey solutions
2011 Dynamic Survey Solutions, Inc. Survey solutions for seismic surveying
2011 MyTopo Print and digital maps for outdoor enthusiasts
2011 Yamei Electronics Technology, Co. Ltd Automotive electronics products
2011 Tekla Corporation BIM Software
2011 PeopleNet Onboard computing and mobile communications systems for fleet management
2012 StruCad and StruEngineer business from AceCad Software Software to extend BIM solutions[5]
2012 Plancal 3D CAD/CAE and ERP software provider
2012 Gatewing UAVs, aerial surveying solutions
2012 SketchUp 3D Modeling Tool
2012 TMW Systems, Inc. Enterprise transportation management and logistics software
2012 Refraction Technology, Inc. Seismic sensors and high-frequency data logging systems
2013 ALK Technologies, Inc. Professional GPS Navigation Software
2013 Ltd. Suite of software solutions
2013 Trade Service Company Leader in content acquisition aggregation, management publishing and distribution of product & pricing info
2013 Actronic Holdings Limited Weighing technology and payload information systems for construction, mining and waste markets
2013 IQ Irrigation Limited Cloud based control of irrigation systems
2013 Asset Forestry Logistics Limited Forestry logistics
2013 RainWave Precipitaion Monitoring Systems Rainfall Monitoring
2014 WeoGeo Cloud based geospatial content management, processing, and e-commerce

Joint ventures[edit]

Trimble has embarked on a number of joint ventures with companies that include Caterpillar, Nikon Corporation and Hilti. In April 2002, Trimble and Caterpillar Inc. began a joint venture, Caterpillar Trimble Controls Technologies LLC, to develop the next generation of advanced electronic guidance and control products for earthmoving machines in the construction, mining and waste industries. The joint venture is the exclusive supplier to Trimble and Caterpillar, who each market, distribute, service and support the products using both companies' independent distribution channels.

Trimble and Caterpillar announced a second joint venture in October 2008. The new company, VirtualSite Solutions, integrates the expertise of both companies in the areas of product design and software development to transform the way contractors manage their businesses. A new distribution channel, SITECH, was established to bring these technologies to customers and other users. Trimble has primary responsibility for managing the SITECH dealer relationship.

In March 2003, Trimble and Nikon Corporation formed a 50–50 joint venture in Japan, Nikon-Trimble Co., Ltd., to address Japan’s survey instruments market in March 2003. As part of the joint venture, Trimble acquired a 50 percent ownership stake in Nikon-Trimble Co., Ltd., which assumed the operations of Nikon Geotecs Co., Ltd. in Japan. The new entity focuses on the design and manufacture of surveying instruments including mechanical total stations and related products. In Japan, the joint venture distributes Nikon's survey products as well as Trimble's survey products including GPS and robotic total stations. Outside of Japan, Trimble became the exclusive distributor of Nikon survey and construction products.

In May 2009, Trimble and the China Aerospace Science & Industry Academy of Information Technology (CASIC-IT) signed a definitive agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture in China. Based in Beijing, the joint venture combines the commercial expertise, knowledge and technologies of both CASIC-IT and Trimble to develop, manufacture and distribute in Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receivers and systems in China, based on the Chinese Compass satellite system, for civil applications in the commercial positioning, navigation and timing markets.

In November 2009, Trimble and the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group Co. Ltd. (CREEC) signed a definitive agreement to form a 50/50 joint venture in China. Based in Chengdu, the joint venture leverages Trimble's commercial positioning, communications and software technologies and CREEC's expertise in rail design and construction to develop and provide digital railway solutions that address the design, construction and maintenance for the Chinese railway industry. Trimble and Russian Space Systems formed a 50/50 joint venture in Russia in 2010. The joint venture, Rusnavgeoset, was officially launched at the GLONASS Forum in Moscow on June 1, 2010. Based in Moscow, Rusnavgeoset is responsible for selling commercial Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) geodetic network infrastructure systems localized for Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

To address the building construction industry, Trimble and the Hilti Group reached a definitive agreement to form Intelligent Construction Tools, LLC in September 2010. The joint venture, 50 percent owned by Trimble and 50 percent owned by Hilti, focuses on leveraging technologies from both companies to develop measuring solutions for the building construction trades. The joint venture will supply products to Trimble and Hilti. Each will market, distribute, service and support the products using its independent distribution or direct sales channels.


In 2009, Trimble was recognized on Forbes’ list of the top 400 best big companies. This was the first time Trimble made the list.[6] In prior years, the company was also featured on Forbes’ 100 Best Mid-Caps in America (2005, 2006, and 2008) and Forbes’ 200 Best Small Companies (2005) lists.[7]


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